A week before Christmas a gang related "riot" broke out in the halls of Manchester High School. In the inevitable follow-up stories, the Journal Inquirer reported that there has been 77 arrests at MHS since August, and that the principal has been put on leave by the superintendent who will temporarily take over the high school.
The superintendent, Kathleen Ouellette, wrote "Please rest assured that all of the rich traditions that are so much a part of Manchester High School will continue to be honored during this time of transition," in a letter to parents.
Now, I know very little about the the school's "rich traditions" as Ms. Ouellette put it, but I do know that if she believes in accountability, she should also believe in her own culpability in the matter.
But for all the pomp and circumstance in trying to demonstrate her control over a clearly decaying school culture, Ms. Ouellette has failed to address the heart of the issue--a mistake that is becoming more common in public schools.
School culture is synergetic, relying on an array of constantly changing pieces. And while superintendents can control, to some extent, who their school leaders are, and who their teachers are, they cannot control who their students are, or who their parents are.
What would have been courageous of Ms. Ouellette to do, was stand in front of the public and take personal responsibility as well as chastise the parents and students. Schools don't need to call the police 242 times because the principal is incompetent. Schools need to call the police 242 time because students act like fools. Students don't act like fools because the principal is incompetent. Students act like fools because their parents have failed at parenting.
President Obama has said, "In the end, there is no program or policy that can substitute for a parent--responsibility for our children's education must begin at home." Unfortunately, the education brass does not believe him.